With the outbreak of COVID-19, we witnessed a variety of people all around the globe from very conscious to least concerned. There were news, misinformation, memes, political reasons, health crisis, improved air quality and lockdowns. To be a villager in Azad Kashmir means you embrace nature in all its beautiful ways. Fresh air, greenery, variety of mountains and fresh streams are all attributed to villages in Kashmir. People in villages are also famous for simplicity and honesty they adapt from living close to nature. Amidst all this chaos I want to share an experience being a villager.
Social Distancing in Village Life
Kids and elderly people being very sensitive to COVID-19 are the most stubborn members as well. Social distancing for kids means no school while elderly people take this time to visit everyone except market. To convince kids that lockdown is different than your vacations is the hardest job nowadays. At the same time to convince older people that you can be a carrier for COVID-19 is another challenge. They will tell you a thousand stories of diseases they have recovered from. They also flaunt their food pattern and tell you the power of halal and haram. In short a child and an old man act same nowadays. Not all the people of this age act alike, I noticed a kid saying hello to his father on video call with his elbow and an old woman refusing to touch a used mask.
There are women managing the kitchen, laundry and other household tasks. Social distancing and lockdown put them in trouble. They are not only saving themselves from Corona but managing the whole household without any help. Weather in the village is still cold. Women in village have to cook, clean, wash, teach and protect the household at the same time. By doing so, they sometimes neglect their own health. Their burden should be shared by male members. Male members can help them in so many different ways like not asking for tea every five minutes.
Can you believe villagers still believe these forward messages? You can make them drink Qehwa at 3:00am by circulating the message that you can survive COVID-19 by having a cup of Qehwa because a newly born said so. I shared this with you just to bring a smile on your face in these hard times. My villagers are simple and can believe you easily but they are helping, caring and educated. They sacrifice as parents of a doctor who is serving in a city far from the village. They sacrifice for their children who are in other more affected countries. They don’t follow news to make themselves believe that everything is fine.
But the reality is different; the tyranny of pandemic is engulfing the lives of the humans across the globe, even the most privileged people couldn’t have a sustainable control and feeling helpless to save the fellow humans. The villagers, who are not having access to mainstream or social media, are most vulnerable. To establish social distancing is a pertinent care to avoid infection. The state’s administration as well as the social workers must concentrate on villages as they are doing in urban areas to save the people from COVID-19.
by: Ayesha Mushtaq